Judge orders arrest of Disney guardianship case attorney

Judge in Disney case orders arrest of lawyer at hearing
Robert Anglen
November 8, 2010
The Arizona Republic

A Maricopa Superior Court judge ordered the arrest of one lawyer and promised to impose sanctions on others during a hearing on a case involving Walt Disney’s grandchildren.

Judge Gary Donahoe told sheriff’s deputies to put Tempe lawyer Joel Sannes in handcuffs and threatened to jail him indefinitely last week after he refused to answer questions about a subpoena issued to a court-appointed physician.

The subpoena asked the doctor to produce records and her findings for every case she has handled for the court over the past five years.

Donahoe had ordered Sannes, three of his clients and any other lawyer involved in the subpoena to appear in court Thursday, adding that failure to show up would result in “a warrant for the arrest of counsel and their clients.”

In his order, Donahoe described the subpoena as “overly broad, oppressive and done for the purposes of harassment.” He also said it resulted in the doctor’s withdrawal from the case, which he reluctantly accepted.

The doctor had been appointed to assess the mental state of Bradford Lund, 40, one of the grandchildren of entertainment legend Walt Disney. Lund, who is developmentally disabled and beneficiary of a trust worth hundreds of millions of dollars, is at the center of a vicious family feud.

Relatives, including his twin sister Michelle, have petitioned the court to appoint an independent guardian for Brad, saying they believe he is being financially exploited by his father, his stepmother and her children.

But his father, Valley real estate developer Bill Lund, denies those claims. He and his wife, Sherry, have vowed to fight the petition, which they say is motivated by greed. They say the court has wrongly intruded into their lives and Brad’s.

Bryn Murphy, a lawyer for the petitioners, confirmed what transpired in court but declined comment.

Sannes could not be reached for comment. He represents Sherry Lund’s two daughters and her son-in-law. Under questioning from Donahoe, he and other lawyers representing the Lund family acknowledged that they were involved in the subpoena.

Donahoe released Sannes at the end of the hearing but said he was still considering sanctions against the lawyers for the Lund family.

Donahoe ordered Brad and to appear before a court investigator on Dec. 9, who “shall be given access to all financial records that he requests to see.”

Donahoe said Lund could have one lawyer and a guardian ad litem present during the interview. But if the attorney impedes, interferes with or obstructs the interview to the slightest degree, another order to show cause will be issued, Donahoe said.